Minnesota Twins Offseason

As many readers of this blog may know, I am a school teacher.  One of the classes I teach is the Student Newspaper class, where my students largely run it while I just supervise.  Every once in a while, however, I like to throw an article out there for the student body.  Below is the article I just cranked out, and felt it was enough to add to this blog, to swing things away from the political, ever so slightly.  Regardless below, I hope you enjoy:

Now that the MLB off-season is in full-swing, it is time for teams to start thinking about what went well last season, and what needs to be improved upon.  For the Minnesota Twins, despite making the playoffs, there was a lot to be desired, namely with pitching.

Last year’s starting rotation was often a game of musical chairs that saw many journeymen and AAAA starters making the rounds.  This was a list that included guys such as Dillon Gee, and even the 44 year old “Big Sexy” Bartolo Colon.  The only two players of consistency were Ervin Santana and Jose Berios.  Outside of that, the other 3 spots were often times an opportunity for the opposing team to get a good BP session in.

The other half of our pitching situation saw largely ineffective relief pitchers cycling in and out of the team between AAA and the MLB.  The Twins traded Brandon Kintzler when the season appeared to be a complete wash, therefore shipping out our only consistent and competent reliever, as well as our 9th inning man.  After this trade, however, the offense started clicking, despite a Miguel Sano injury, and the Twins started winning.  Relying on journeyman Matt Belisle, who couldn’t seem to keep the ball in the park, to often times close out games for us left fans frustrated, watching leads dwindle in the late innings.

So what can the Twins do about this?  General Manager Thad Levine has recently gone on record that saying top free agent Yu Darvish will be a top priority for the Twins to sign, despite the knowledge that he will receive the richest contract for an SP for this coming season.  Darvish is coming off of a season that saw him struggling in the playoffs, and struggling after a trade to the Dodgers, but he still was able to amass 10Ks per 9 innings, which is something the Twins have been lacking for years.

The Twins have also made it known that they’re interested in Shohei Ohtani once he is posted by the Nippon Fighters over in Japan.  Ohtani is an interesting player, as he has had success both as a power bat but also an effective starter.  This is largely unheard of in the MLB, to have a duel threat batter/pitcher.  It is thought that many teams would rather make him either pitch or bat, but Ohtani has made it well known that he intends on doing both and will make his team choice not based on the size of the contract, but the ability to have some freedom in his position play.  The Twins are in a great position to be able to accommodate for this, as we have no clear player set for the DH position going into next season.  Could that be a plus for landing Ohtani?  One can hope.

As for the need to acquire quality relievers, we have not alluded to any plan or players, yet.  There isn’t a strong crop of top end relief pitchers on the market, so we might have to make a trade.  Teams such as the Marlins are looking to cut payroll, so they’d be a good place to start.  Other teams, such as the Reds are in sell-mode, as well, so they could be looking to trade established RPs, as well.  Hopefully Levine and company are able to string together a deal or two to help secure the final innings of a ballgame.

Regardless of what should happen this off-season, the Twins should be an interesting team to watch next year,  Nobody expected that a team which lost over 100 games in 2016 could make the playoffs in 2017, especially without having much roster turnover.  Paul Molitor definitely will have his work cut out for him for 2018 as he manages this Twins squad for another season.

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Some Rambling about People as Mascots…

So lately in the news there has been a lot of talk about about Bomani Jones (Co-Host of ESPN’s Highly Questionable) and his wearing of the Caucasians shirt while on air.  In a nut shell, there are a number of predominately white individuals who have taken issue with this shirt, including a number of higher ups within ESPN.

I think it goes without saying that the fact that there is such uproar about a colored man wearing this shirt, thoroughly aggravating a large enough population of people to make this newsworthy, proves the point that Native American groups and supporters have been trying to make for decades that the Cleveland Indians name and/or logo is highly offensive.

I do not take the complete straight-lined stance of “people are not mascots” like many others do.  I feel that some mascots are very tastefully done.  For example:

  • Cleveland Indians:  This is probably the most offensive of the bunch.  Not only is the term “Indians” completely stupid, but the Chief Wahoo logo is beyond ridiculous and offensive.  Over 500 years ago, white Europeans came here in search of a new trade route to India, what they instead landed on was a continent they had never been to, that was inhabited by a people they had never encountered.  They mistaken thought these people were Indians.  Over 500 years later we haven’t even bothered to correct ourselves, and now a mediocre baseball team out of Ohio has the Chief Wahoo on their cap and call their team the Indians.
  • Washington Redskins:  This is a case where they don’t necessarily have an offensive logo.  In all honesty, I enjoy their logo, it is nothing inflammatory and truthfully is a “prouder” depiction of a Native American.  The main issue that comes from this team is their actual name, “Redskins”.  Truthfully, referring to a Native American as being a “Redskin” is along the same lines as using terms such as Jap, Gook, Spic, Nigger, Beaner, etc.
  • Atlanta Braves: Here is, in my opinion, an example of “using people as mascots” done correct.  A Brave was commonly referred to as a Native American warrior from the North American tribes, primarily located in the Southeast area of the modern day United States.  Truly, the Atlanta Braves are about on par with the Fighting Irish.  The logo is tastefully done, with the tomahawk, and there are no depictions of an actual group of people.  The Atlanta Braves, their namesake and logo are about on par with the New York Yankees or Milwaukee Brewers.
  • UND Fighting Sioux:  Here is, in my opinion, another example of using Native tribes done correctly.  UND was under a lot of fire from the NCAA for their use of the term Fighting Sioux, yet they went and met with the various Sioux Tribes in the area to obtain their blessing to continue to use the moniker.  All tribes agreed that this was okay, except one didn’t bother to give a stance either way, so therefore UND lost their namesake.  UND does not use offensive logos, and again Fighting Sioux is about on part with Fighting Irish (another college team).  I respect that UND currently stays “mascot free” while they are still working with the various powers that be to gain the ability to use the Fighting Sioux as their namesake again, one day.

I always find is so interesting when speaking about such things to other white males and how nonchalant they are about such an issue.  Basically their main argument is that these groups are being too easily offended or being soft.  This is rather ridiculous, and Jones’ use of the Caucasians shirt has brought to the forefront how easily it is to get offended when one is portrayed in a negative light purely based on something such as the color of their skin.  The unfortunate thing is that every single one of these white males will never even have to live a single day knowing what it is like to be disrespected purely based on something such as the color of their skin.  If you’re so sick of hearing about it, imagine how exhausting it must be to live it.